The news: In case you had any doubts left that Comcast is a terrible company that doesn't deserve your money, this recorded customer service call between YouTuber Tim Davis via Reddit should clear them.
Davis was experiencing some problems with an erratic connection after moving homes and after some hassle, he convinced Comcast to send a service technician to his residence. Comcast informed him the issue was with the cables running to his building rather than a self-installation error and that the repair would come at no cost.
A week later, Davis received a cumulative repair bill of $181.94, including charges for repairs never conducted like WiFi setup and a coaxial jack that was never installed. The ensuing call with customer service was, to say the least, frustrating:
"You can not bill me for something that I did not authorize," says Davis. "You can not tell me that it's free, then bill me anyway and then tell me that you can not un-bill me or credit me for the bill."
"I apologize for that, but there's no way that I can credit the account," responds the representative. Later, the rep begrudgingly agreed to refund the whole amount — but only because the call was being recorded.
The background: This is Comcast's second huge screw up in just a few weeks. In mid-July, another recorded call between Engadget editor Ryan Block and a Comcast rep demonstrated just how excruciatingly difficult it is to cancel a Comcast account.
Okay, here's the tail end of our Comcast disconnection call last week. Tell me I'm not crazy? https://t.co/ohVt2YWZis (Background at link.)— Ryan Block (@ryan) July 14, 2014
But while it's tempting to blame the representatives, the real problem lies in well-documented tactics designed to make canceling accounts a pain in the butt and provide support as cheap and quick as possible, even if it results in terrible service. Latest's Joshua Patton pointed out that "Call centers thrive on their total lack of job security to motivate their employees to lose the company as little money as they can." Comcast deliberately makes simple things like returning equipment or canceling accounts difficult because there's virtually no competition.
Why you should care: It'd be great if you could choose to avoid using Comcast, but many simply don't have a choice. Around 30% of Americans have no choice of broadband provider, while an even greater number only have two. Even if you can switch, it might not be much different — the industry as a whole ranks the lowest in customer satisfaction.
Regulating Internet access like a utility would do away with most of these problems, but would hurt ISP profits. Ultimately, that's why it probably won't happen and we'll be stuck with just more examples of terrible customer service. Get those tape recorders ready.